Eating out: a preview dinner at the Woodlands

New chef Andrew Chadwick takes the helm

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On Tuesday night, I hitched a ride with CP writer Brys Stephens and we headed to Summerville for a media preview dinner at the Woodlands. They had just announced their new chef Andrew Chadwick and were eager to introduce him to about 21 media types, including the always fabulous Nathalie Dupree. I'm a fan of Nathalie (going back to her old PBS cooking show) and I really wanted to situate myself as close to her as possible during dinner. She says funny stuff. All the time. Sometimes without realizing it. The last time I ran into her at Husk, she made a point of telling me how cute my 11-year-old dining companion was, saying something about his profile and how he looked like a cameo (you know, a brooch not the 70s funk band).

She's like your favorite batty aunt who always brings a batch of warm chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. Unfortunately, we were assigned seats and Nathalie was not at my table. Boo. But I did get to sit near some other interesting folks — Matt Owen from Woodlands, Anna Evans from Charleston Mag, Caroline Nuttall from Read Charlie, and Jonathan Miller of Sammy the Wonder Dachsund fame. We had a swell time at our table despite being deprived of Nathalie.

They treated us to a five-course tasting menu designed to show off the new chef (and his five-star budget). To start things off, we drank a small glass of warm bouillon of chicken which had a thin matsutaki mushroom slice floating in it. For the life of me, I could not get that damn mushroom out of the glass. Brys had better luck. He said he threw it back like it was the tequila worm. Even without getting the shroom, my lingering head cold appreciated being fed the hot, salty liquid.

Next up was a "tasting of fall salad, butternut squash, roasted beets, 'soil.'" I'm just going to show you the picture of that one and let you see it for yourself.

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Two courses of truffles and pork fat came next. There's that five-star budget I was talking about. Black truffles and lardo were followed by white truffles and pork belly. I'm blaming my cold for the lack of flavor. I couldn't taste anything. Next time I'm sick, I won't waste the calories eating decadent food I can't taste. Chadwick wrapped up with a dessert of poached pears and pistachios before taking us into the kitchen for a look around. Afterwards, we got a tour of the rooms. The place felt so cozy that night with fires blazing in all the fireplaces and Christmas decorations everywhere. It helped that it was as cold as a witch's tit outside. All we were missing was some lightly falling snowflakes.

It will be interesting to watch the changes up there as Chadwick gets his feet under him. He's already got plans for a garden and says he'll be melding local seasonal flavors with the best ingredients he can find.

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